On the Translation of Culture-Specific Terms Related to Thai Superstitions and Beliefs

Main Article Content

Supannee Pinmanee

Abstract

This academic article focuses on the methodology that is most effective in conveying the meaning of a source text (ST) into the language of the translation, the target text (TT). The article looks specifically at the problems in translation that arise from the lack of a one-to-one correspondence between words and concepts used in Thai with words and concepts used in English. The methodology proposed is that of Newmark (1995) which employs eighteen strategies of translation of culturally bound terms. The terms used in this area show very well not only the differences in language but also the differing cultures and world views of the speakers of Thai and those of English. English has developed its own set of culturally specific words and terms for beliefs, which when used in an attempt to convey the words and terms used in Thai generally convey the meaning of the Thai expression inadequately. Newmark’s strategies are used in the article to illustrate the particularly difficult task of translating terms expressing Thai superstitions and beliefs into English, a language which embodies a very different culture with its own beliefs and assumptions. Other problems considered include semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic aspects in translating. It was found that translation of culture-specific terms is possible and possible to a certain degree of effectiveness. However, it is imperative that the successful translator possesses the necessary knowledge and skills to translate not only the language of the source text but also the culture of the source text into the language and culture of the target text.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

Section
Articles

References

Akbari, Monireh. (2013). The Role of Culture in Translation. Journal of Academic and Applied Studies (Special Issue on Applied Linguistics). 3(8) Aug. 2013, pp. 13-21.
Baker, M. (2011). In Other Words: A Course book on Translation. London and New York: Routledge.
Durdureanu, I. I. (2011). Translation of Cultural Terms: Possible or Impossible? Retrieved from www.uab.ro/joLIE/2011/4_durdureanu_irina.pdf.
Harvey, M. (2000). A Beginner’s Course in Legal Translation: the Case of Culture-bound Terms. Bern/Genѐve: ASTTI/ETI.
Hatim, B., & Mason, I. (1994). Discourse and the Translator. London: Longman.
Hervey, S., & Higgins, I. (1992). Thinking Translation. London/New York: Routledge.
Larson, M. L. (1984). Meaning-based Translation: A Guide to Cross-Language Equivalence. New York: University Press of America.
Newmark, P. (1995). A Textbook of Translation. London: Phoenix ELT.
Nida, E.A. (1964). Towards a Science of Translating with Special Reference to Principles and Procedures Involved in Bible Translating. Leiden: E.J. Brill.
Vinay, J. P. & Darbelnet, J. (2004). Comparative stylistics of French and English: A methodology for translation; translated and edited by Sager, J.C. & Hamel, M.J. in Venuti, L. (ed.) (2004) The Translation Studies Reader, 2nd edition, (pp. 128-37). London and New York: Routledge.

Note: The author has taken notes on what ordinary Thai people talk about with regards to their superstitions and beliefs and formed the ideas from extensive reading of the media. Some of the concepts found were extraordinarily intricate, while some others were obscure and so specific to the Thai speech-community that it seemed impossible to translate them adequately into English. In the attempt to find the answers to the questions of what was possible and what was impossible to translate, the author investigated the media both online and offline. Of the stories and articles related to Thai superstitions and beliefs found, the author tried out various experiments in translating, parsing, modifying, altering and adjusting words and expressions to obtain the closest meaning to the Thai concepts and to verify the translation strategies. The following are the sources out of which words and expressions have been collected.

Namdokmai. (1995, October). The proposal, Thai style. Kinnaree, 128.
Namdokmai. (1995, December). The engagement procession (3). Kinnaree, 136.
Namdokmai. (1996, April). Thai wedding: the lustral water-pouring ceremony. Kinnaree, 154.
Namdokmai. (1998, May). Tham kwan sam wan, greeting the new-born. Kinnaree, 82.
Namdokmai. (1999, May). Bai Sri. Kinnaree, 82.
Sukprasert, Supaporn. (2000, March). Birthday Buddha images. Kinnaree, 116.
Sukprasert, Supaporn. (2000, October). Ecclesiastical fan for the honorific rank of monk. Kinnaree, 110.
Thatthong, Boonma. (2004, January). Making a food offering to monks. Kinnaree, 28.
Thatthong, Boonma. (2005, March). Mae Ya Nang Rua. Kinnaree, 30.
Thatthong, Boonma. (2006, June). Tradition of extending life. Kinnaree, 84.

Websites
10 Thai customs to know before visiting Thailand. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://matadornetwork.com/abroad/10-thai-customs-to-know-before-visiting-thailand/
10 Things You Didn't Know About Thai Culture. (2017, May 03). Retrieved from https://www.thethailandlife.com/10-facts-thai-culture-and-customs
15 Common Thai Superstitions and Beliefs. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://learnthaiwithmod.com/2013/10/10-common-thai-superstitions-and-beliefs/
26 Famous Thai Superstitions | Thai Superstitions. (2016, June 22). Retrieved from https://www.bangkokexpatlife.com/2016/04/famous-thai-superstitions
60 Thai superstitious dos and don'ts for your convenience | Coconuts Bangkok. (2015, December 08). Retrieved from https://coconuts.co/bangkok/60-thai-superstitious-dos-and-donts-your-convenience/
A Guide to Culture. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ywamthai.org/office/culture
English, M. (2017, September 06). Thai local male clothes Might be Goood for staying in Thailand. Retrieved from https://en.mthai.com/lifestyle/31670.html
Hays, J. (n.d.). FUNERALS, DEATH CUSTOMS AND CREMATIONS IN THAILAND. Retrieved from http://factsanddetails.com/southeast-asia/Thailand/sub5_8b/entry-3217.html
Limited, B. P. (n.d.). Thai ghosts: Welcome to our world. Retrieved from https://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-news/377582/thai-ghosts-welcome-to-our-world
Ewart-James, V. (2016, September 08). Five Mysterious Thai Superstitions. Retrieved from https://www.thailand-property.com/blog/five-mysterious-thai-superstitions
Exploring the 14 Traditional Steps of a Thai Wedding Ceremony. (2016, February 22). Retrieved from https://www.thethailandlife.com/thai-wedding-ceremony
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.buddhanet.net/bfuneral.htm (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.commisceo-global.com/country-guides/thailand-guide
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.th4u.com/culture.htm (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.thailandbreeze.com/thai-culture-and-relationships-1.htm
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.thaiwaysmagazine.com/thai_cultures/
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.thaiwaysmagazine.com/thai_cultures/
Numbers, flowers and the spiritual side of Thai culture. (2012, August 07). Retrieved from http://uk.blog.tourismthailand.co.uk/2012/07/13/numbers-flowers-and-the-spiritual-side-of-thai-culture/
Thai Traditional Wedding Ceremony. (n.d.). Retrieved from
http://learnthaiwithmod.com/2013/09/thai-tradition-wedding-ceremony/
Thailand. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.everyculture.com/Sa-Th/ Thailand.html
Thailand | Etiquette, Customs, Culture & Business Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/guides/guide-to-thailand-etiquette-customs-culture-business/